Welcome to the first edition of our series, Lights, Camera, Startup!
Let’s look at the major takeaways from the startup as seen on the world renowned TV series, “The Office”, i.e., Michael Scott Paper Company!
He’s the world’s best boss and, coincidentally, also one of the most successful business owners. Michael Scott Paper Company just might be one of the best examples of a startup.
It didn’t last too long, but had the best outcome anyone could’ve hoped for. (That’s what she said!)
Sorry, we couldn’t help it. Let’s get into what Michael Scott Paper Company did right and wrong!
1. Risky business is …err…risky
Let go from Dunder Mifflin (a paper company), over a blunder (tongue twister right there), Michael Scott decided to start his own paper company, The Michael Scott Paper Company.
He knew paper. He knew business. It was a safe choice.
A man of many talents and aliases like Prison Mike, Date Mike, Ping, Michael Klump, the list goes on. He could’ve done a myriad of other things, like become an improv artist or pursued movie making centered around Michael Scarn, the secret agent.
But he chose to do what he knew best. It wasn’t making “That’s what she said jokes”, it was selling paper.
2. Why fit in when you can be an oddball?
Imagine leaving your desk job for a coworker’s startup. Would you do it? Maybe don’t answer in front of them.Everyone said no to Michael Scott, even assistant TO THE regional manager, Dwight.
Except, Pam, bored with her desk job, and Ryan, accused of fraud and reduced to working at a bowling alley.
What did both of them have in common? While they weren’t his first choice, they had the drive to step out of mediocrity and monotony. They were the only ones willing to partake in a game of dunking cheese balls. There’s no “I” in team, there’s “I” in pie. And pie tastes good with a driven bunch.
3. Vengeance is fun…if you’re batman
Brooding dark thoughts and hunting down enemies is a superhero thing, not a startup thing.
While for Michael Scott, the biggest motivator was to outdo, or at least match Dunder Mifflin’s appeal, in hindsight it wasn’t ideal. He bought a space in the same building, went after the same clients, and was driven by gossip and malice.
Maybe if Michael focused on building the Michael Scott Paper Company, it could’ve outdone Dunder Mifflin. Ok, maybe that’s too ambitious, but you get the point.
Don’t channel your inner batman or gossip girl, channel your inner business-man.
4. End of season sales, end
In the race to undercut his competition, Michael Scott Paper Company found itself almost bankrupt. Even crunching the numbers twice didn’t help.
Growth for any company will follow only if it’s profitable. You can’t keep having sales or discounts. Recession will hit, seasonal dips will occur, your co-workers might annoy you, but the company strategy must hold.
While in the long run, growth is important. To run a company, you need money.
Mo money, mo problems. But no money, no company.
5. Get your game face on
How do you know when to quit or when to stay on?
When times are tough, your own grandmother may not invest in your business.
Bankrupt, Michael kept his cool. He walked into the meeting room with confidence and made his case in front of Wallace. He was nauseous, anxious, it took everything, but he faked it.
In a business, no one knows what you’re going through, and they don’t have to. Smile and wave, boys.
6. Even toilet paper is branded
Remember the Korean van Michael rented to deliver paper? If he had just branded it with his company, it would’ve spread some awareness about his business. And not resulted in a Korean woman mistaking it for a ride to the church.
Same goes for the paper shaped pancakes.
Whether it’s pencils, cars, food or paper, customers are driven by brands. Your brand drives your business.
Well folks, that was it. We’ve got more lessons on the way. Stay tuned!